In the Garden:
Lower South
March, 2013
Regional Report

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'Starbor' kale is a tasty leafy green that provides many nutritious benefits, and is a versatile addition to healthy eating.

Nutritious, Delicious Greens

I love leafy greens! Fresh in a salad, steamed as a side dish, mixed with rice or pasta, chopped into soups, or layered onto a sandwich, greens are great. Leafy greens pack a nutritious punch that makes them an important part of a healthy diet. Fiber, minerals, antioxidants, and a host of health building phytochemicals can be found in many wonderful leafy garden greens.

Greens are easy to grow and many are among the fastest vegetables from planting to plate. With a little protection from the mid-summer sun or the coldest days of winter, here in the Lower South we can grow greens in every season of the year.

Superb Salads
Lettuce and spinach are a good salad foundations. Then start spicing things up with a few extra ingredients like crunchy Chinese cabbage, corn salad (mache), and baby-sized leaves of kale and Swiss chard. Season the mix with the a nutty, spicy punch of young arugula, the peppery zest of cress, a little lemony zing with sorrel, a bit of young mustard leaves for a pungent pop, and just a bit of Italian parsley. With all this flavor, you may decide to forgo the salad dressing!

Give your sandwiches a tasty leap forward. Layer on some of the greens mentioned above to make an ordinary sandwich extraordinary.

Soups and Sides
Spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are especially tasty when lightly steamed or wilted with hot, sauteed onions. There are many other greens that deserve a place in the wide variety of soups and side dishes we enjoy including collards, cabbage, mustard, amaranth, Malabar, lamb's quarter, and purslane (yes, the weed), and a variety of Asian greens too numerous to mention!

Greens are not difficult to grow if you provide them a well prepared seed bed and moderate moisture to help them get started. While they love full sun, leafy greens can tolerate more shade that most root and fruit bearing vegetables.

Rake the planting area to smooth the soil surface. Follow planting instructions on the seed packet, noting whether the seeds need to be covered or left on top of the soil where they can be exposed to light. Irrigate with a fine mist sprayer to maintain moist soil and avoid dislodging the seeds.

A row cover fabric suspended over the planting bed will help maintain moisture, block some of the heat when the sun is blazing down, and perhaps most important, will block out any hungry insects that find your salad bar too tempting to resist!

Care to share your gardening thoughts, insights, triumphs, or disappointments with your fellow gardening enthusiasts? Join the lively discussions on our FaceBook page and receive free daily tips!

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